Ahhh, my favorite WWE show of the year. Every January, I’m just pumped for the Royal Rumble. It’s the greatest gimmick match that has ever been brought to life. The ultimate trial of tribulations to see if you can oust all other competitors for that opportunity to main event Wrestlemania. Essentially it’s the action of an entire playoff bracket, in a single night. But with that said, there are a few promising bouts on the card along with both the men’s and women’s rumble events.
Bobby Roode & Chad Gable vs Rezar & Scott Dawson
I’m still trying to understand why this was even a match? Just take it off the card, and have another set of 205 talent square off instead. We’ve been told that there will be more focus on the tag division on the main rosters, I’m not seeing it. In fact – I’m not seeing it at all in this show. Better yet, why not have an actual tag title match against an actual tag team? No story, no reason, no fun. Rezar and Dawson are paired together, they’re told they could “maybe” get a show at the titles for their respective teams if they win? So which team would get it? Both?
Roode & Gable pick up the win here, no reason to really dive deep into this match, because of the rest of the show was actually very good. But I wanted to note that Dawson showed up to the ring by himself, why not have Dash ringside? I understand Rezar’s teammate Akam is injured and not there, but at least Drake Maverick is there.
Rusev vs Shinsuke Nakamura
Did I say the rest of the show was very good? My apologies, this doesn’t quite make the cut either. But at least there was a story being told here. And there was a moment here where chain submissions by Shinsuke were actually neat. As Rusev traied to out power Nakamura to get out of some holds, Nakamura adjusted each time, although Rusev would finally get the payoff and suplex Nakamura to get way from the holds.
Lana tried to get involved, but once again it causes Rusev the win. Lana’s intentions were good, of course. As Shinsuke was removing a turnbuckle covering, Lana gets on the side apron to tell the ref Nakamura is cheating. Nakamura shouts at Lana in her face to, “Mind your own business!” Rusev attempts to hit Shinsuke from, Shinsuke sidesteps and Rusev knocks Lana off the apron and caused Lana an ankle injury. Rusev distracted with concern for his wife being hurt, Nakamura hits Rusev from behind with his finisher Kinshasa and picks up the pinfall victory to become the new United States Champion.
Buddy Murphy vs Kalisto vs Akira Towaza vs Hideo Itami
Firstly, I love Aiden English on commentary, he definitely has a good voice for it, a bit reminiscent of old school wrestling commentary. I dig it.
Lots of face paced action, no surprise there. I really felt bad for the ref trying to keep up with all the quick pin counts. I gotta say, I don’t get to watch a lot of the 205 Live stuff, but hot-dang this match was great. I thought Towaza looked super impressive compared to when I had last seen him. Murphy also looked super impressive, easily the best looking wrestler in this bout. Everything he does looks crisp. I never got a chance to see Hideo since it seemed like he would be injured forever when he came in originally. But I thought his sells looked really good, and he looked to maybe have the biggest move set to rival Buddy Murphy. And then Kalisto was Kalisto. Other than a botch that was probably more Hideo’s fault, Kalisto looked solid.
So with all the back and forth action, I enjoyed Hideo trying to play it as if he was “the man to beat” in the match. As if the other challengers were chopped liver. But what set Buddy Murphy a part from everyone else involved, he just looked the most ring-smart. Murphy’s smarts also leads him to victory, he retains his Cruiserweight Championship.
Asuka vs Becky Lynch
Stone Cold Steve Austin. He was the last superstar that would give me goosebumps when their music hit. Nobody has lived up to that hype, until now. Becky Lynch is the modern day Stone Cold Steve Austin. And I don’t mean that as in she’s a replica. She’s far from being a beer drinkin’ redneck. But she is the Irish Lass Kicker, and it’s hard to dislike her. Like it or not, she is The Man.
Then again, it’s also hard to dislike The Empress of Tomorrow, Asuka. And I gotta say, that Smackdown Women’s Championship looks great around her waist. One thing I really wanted to note here, was I felt like Asuka was starting to look like NXT Asuka as opposed to main roster Asuka. It’s hard to explain, but it’s the way she moves, the way she reacts, her body language, etc.. I love it!
These ladies brawl it out a bit, trading blows. They also exchange quite a bit of trash talk, which was entertaining. I loved how hard hitting this match felt. Not a lot of women can replicate that physical energy, but these two women just may be the toughest in the business.
While showing the WWE Universe that they are indeed heavy hitters, they showed how smooth they can transition and work as well. From inside the ring, to the outside, everything flowed really well. And it pays off, as the crowd finally becomes the loudest they have been all night so far. Although I’m not convinced that the noise isn’t mostly going up and out of the baseball stadium that the show is being held in.
I really thought the lead up to the finish, and the finish were really good here. Asuka hits Becky with what looked like a modified swinging neck breaker to the outside of the ring which looked brutal. Lynch would beat the 10 count, at the count of 9. Some back and forth shenanigans, with Asuka getting the better of the back and forth bouts. That was until Becky hit her Bexploder suplex from the top rope, whoa! Lynch then goes for a leg drop from the top rope to put Asuka away, Asuka counters, they trade submissions(they even try to use each other submissions). Then they chain a few pinfalls against eachother, which leads to Asuka gettting her Asuka lock in, she even flips her own body for the most leverage possible which looked awesome. Becky taps, Asuka retains her Smackdown Women’s Championship. Personally, this was the match of the night for me.
The Bar vs Miz & Shane McMahon
Remember when I spoke about the lack of “said” focus on the main rosters tag team divisions? This kind of coincides with that statement. Now let me be clear, this was actually a decent match. The build and story here was actually pretty well done. But allow me to digest this, and then spew it all out.
Shane bolts for Sheamus, and gives him a spear with some ground punches to get some frustration out. Cesar is such a clever worker, he does the little things that makes everything look good.
After going back and forth for a bit, each team tries to put a body through the table, but both get saved. The outside the ring brawl goes on for a bit. which eventually leads Miz in the ring being worked by Cesar and Sheamus through a cycle of tags.
Eventually Shane gets the hot tag from Miz, and gears up to hit a cost-to-coast, but Cesar catches him mid air to counter it into the big ol’ swing, pretty neat. After The Bar beats up Shane for a few minutes, Miz saves the day, and sets Shane up to hit a shooting star from the top rope onto Cesar to get the winning pinfall to became new Smackdown Tag Team Champions.
I love Miz, and of course love Shane. But I don’t understand how this will boost the tag division since The Bar are an actual powerhouse of a tag team. There definitely won’t be much longevity in this storyline from here, I can’t see Shane going on for a lot long, but maybe I’m mistaken. Overall an entertaining match, but very far from an instant classic.
Ronda Rousey vs Sasha Banks
So this was destined to doom, in my eyes. How do you follow up Asuka vs Becky? Sasha overcame though, and looked fierce. Similar to Asuka, Sasha had that flare that reminded me of her time in NXT. Not nearly as ruthless, but that swagger about her felt like it was there again. Ronda looked like Ronda, and referee John Cone looked like Larry the Lobster(nothing new here).
“Think I can’t wrestle?”— Ronda Rousey
Ooof… Cringe Ronda, cringe. We know you can wrestle, you’re a former UFC champion for goodness sake. The fans aren’t that blind, we know you aren’t a one trick pony.I get it though, playing into the story, I just cringed at that, that’s all. Sorry.
So there was a lot of hesitation on Ronda’s part, but I get it. She’s a legitimate fighter, and probably worried she will hurt her opponent. I hope she gets over that hurdle, she does look solid in a WWE ring.
I thought this match went over very well. So many cool counter, they all looked solid and smooth for the most part. Both superstars looked amazing. Then once the mat-game happened. Sasha really looked amazing. But of course, we should expect that to be more of Ronda’s strength, which it does as she takes over and mat-wrestles Sasha into her finisher the Piper’s Pit. I just wish Ronda would throw a little bit more velocity into that grapple and make that impact look meaningful. Overall great match, decent finish, good sell at the end by Ronda. After the second, and yet somehow softer Piper’s Pit, Ronda picks up the 3 counts for the win. Ronda and Sasha exchange handshakes a few times. But afterward, Sasha puts up the 4 fingers. Which to me makes me wonder if this is a prelude to the 4 horsewomen ensuring Ronda will not win at Mania to give Ronda her send off and lose the title. Yeah, I know Ronda already shot down the rumor that she isn’t going anywhere after Mania, but I think it’s a solid fact at this point she will be taking a leave of absence.
Women’s Royal Rumble
Seriously, who the #$%& is Lacey Evans? Every time I see her, I just think about the gimmick in the Netflix show GLOW. Anyway, I’ll some up some highlights, and spots worth mentioning.
Lacey had a weak kick-up, and Natalia Heart gave her a sarcastic clapping good job. This is how the Women’s Rumble starts, yup… I’m with it though, made me laugh.
Ember Moon, yassss. So I’m not the biggest Ember Moon fan, but I thought she looked great in the Rumble. She showed a large moveset in a short amount of time, had a neat looking save after it looked like she was destined to be eliminated.
I don’t think I have much to say about Nicki Cross, other than she scares me. I mean that in the nicest way possible(I hope you understand Nicki).
I would love to see more of Xia Li. Her kicks look nuts, and with the right opposition I’m sure she is going to have great matches in the future.
So at my lucky number #13, I had picked Charlotte Flair to win it all before the Rumble began. And I was so certain she was going to win it. And she looked more dominate than her father the entire match.
Kairi Sane literally ran all the way to the ring with her telescope looked onto the ring. What? I said Kairi Sane literally ran all the.. What? But in all seriousness, I like that she had a spot with Charlotte in a chop-off. And I’ll just say this: Kairi has the best looking elbow from the top rope, ever. Don’t @ me either..
Maria Kanellis is still around? And actually I thought she looked pretty good here.
I was scared for Naomi here, I thought for sure she was going to fall off the barricade during her super save moment. Then just made the jump all the way to the metal steps like it was nothing. Naomi is a freak of nature.
Kacy, who? Former American Ninja Warrior jawn? Mighty Kacy, alright, well she looks somewhat impressive here. She seems super duper quick. I hate these cheeky saves, but Kacy made hers look pretty neat.
Dana Brooke, good for you coming back on a pay-per-view show and looking so good.
I take it back, I think this Io chick is probably the most impressive that I’ve never seen before.
Admittedly, I havem’t watched much of the NXT UK stuff, but this Rhea Rippley may scare me more than Nicki Cross.
Another welcome back moment, Alexa in her first match back since her injury and she looked great!
Here comes the Ravishing Russian Lana…. Who is limping at snail’s pace… In fact the next entrant would come out before Lana makes it to the ring and it’s Nia Jax. And you guessed it, she nails Lana and puts on even more pain and misery to Lana. Poor Lana 🙁
Oh my goodness, it’s happening! Becky Lynch comes out to where medical is tending to Lana on the walkway. She convinces Finlay to let’r in. Finley shows Becky the way and her music hits. Holy crap, this crowd is going bananas with Beck squaring up Nia in the middle of the ring. You would have thought Stone Cold Steve Austin was on his way to the ring with that amazing astounding ovation.
The final four would be Charlotte, Bailey, Nia, and Becky. Charlotte just looks so poised to win it all, she’s in that craze of ruthless aggression. Nia would throw her weight around while Charlotte was trying to go one on one with Becky, and Charlotte even tolls Nia to stay out of it. Nia and Charlotte trade some blows to the point where Charlotte lifts Nia above her shoulders but crumbles to Nia’s hefty weight. But a second chance would get her over the top rope, and Becky pulls her down from the outside. We’re down to Becky and Charlotte! Of course though Nia would need to push Becky off the ring as well to return the favor. Becky is favoring her left knee, this isn’t looking good for Becky, but my pick is moments away from crowning herself the winner. Becky gets in the ring, insisting she can go.
I can go! Fight me! This is my time!Becky Lynch
Charlotte Flair goes right for the injured knee, Becky doing her best to cover up and salvage any hits from doing more damage. Becky fires some shots back at Charlotte, and they trade a few close calls. Charlotte eyes up Becky for a running big boot to the face, Becky ducks and dumps Charlotte over the ropes then feeds a fist to Charlottes face, and then down goes Charlotte. What a rumble! I’m sure Becky is going right for Ronnie and the Raw Women’s Championship at Wrestlemania. And I can’t help but think the 4 Horsewomen will be playing a part in that. I’m excited!
Daniel Bryan vs AJ Styles